Dangerous Mission 1954 with Victor Mature

The best thing about Dangerous Mission is the great location cinematography of Glacier National Park where it was filmed – and filmed in Technicolor and 3D

With such spectacular scenery on view there is no doubt that it must have boosted tourism in Montana considerably

Piper Laurie witnesses a mob killing in New York, but she’s afraid to testify and flees back home to Montana where she knows everybody and strangers can be spotted easily. She’s a guest at the tourist lodge owned by Betta St. John and her father Steve Darrell who’s also got some problems with the law but being an Indian he’s pretty good at staying outdoors and living off the land.

Two strangers take an interest in Piper Laurie both quite charming in their own ways, Victor Mature and Vincent Price.

William Bendix is also in the cast as the chief Forest Ranger in the park and he makes the most of his role and maybe he could have been given more to do in the film.

Another thing Dangerous Mission has to recommend it is a very good depiction of a landslide which wreaks havoc on a hillside house and later Victor Mature goes out and tames a downed power line. The final chase scene across the glacier is also well done.

It is well written and staged and Dangerous Mission is enjoyable.

Victor Mature was in a very successful part of his film career at this point – the superb ‘The Robe’ had been released but after this came ‘Demetrius and the Gladiators’ and ‘The Egyptian’

His run of films at that time :

The Robe released 18 September 1953

Veils of Bagdad – released 7 October 1953

Dangerous Mission released 6 March 1954

Demetrius and the Gladiators released 16 June 1954

The Egyptian released 24 August 1954

So in the space of less than a year these Victor Mature films hit the big Cinemascope screen – at least two of them with mega big Box Office returns

Interesting to note that a very young Betta St John appeared in both ‘The Robe’ and ‘Dangerous Mission’

She had been a stage actress and in the London West End production of ‘South Pacific’ in 1952 where she met and soon married one of the cast members Peter Grant – and they remained happily married for many years

Here she is below with her future husband on stage in South Pacific – no doubt singing ‘Happy Talk’

A very pretty girl

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Walt Disney in England

1949 Denham

Walt Disney and his family travelled over to England quite often during the time that he was making his first ‘live’action’ films here.

They were all here in 1949 and they are pictured BELOW in the summer of that year posing with Bobby Driscoll at Denham Film Studios on the set of ‘Treasure Island’

Walt was certainly back in the summer of 1951 – again to Denham – for the filming of ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’

SR-Pub-55A.tif

1952: Beaconsfield, England

Walt Disney on location in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. The Hollywood Reporter, July 17, 1952, in a despatch from London dated Friday, July 11: “Walt Disney arrived in town this week and got right down to work on his new British picture, The Sword and the Rose.

Here he is chatting to Alex Bryce, the very experienced Second Unit Director, who was mainly responsible for the outdoor action filming both in this film and the one before ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’

Location shooting was being done by a second unit at Wilton Park, Beaconsfield, about 20 miles out of London, due to start a few days later The film was released a year later.

ABOVE – Bobby Driscoll here in England for ‘Treasure Island’ having fun with some youngsters of his own age

The release in the USA of ‘The Sword and the Rose’ – also showing on the same bill is another Walt Disney film ‘Prowlers of the Everglades’

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Boom Radio – theme from ‘The Boys’ 1962

This may be a a lot of people’s ‘go to’ station on the Radio these days – it is mine – a station that plays records that you have often, not heard in years and as they say ‘every record a surprise’

Normally a Radio station would not feature on this Blog, but a few days ago, David Hamilton, on his lunchtime show, featured a track I can’t ever remember hearing and that was The Shadows with the theme from the film ‘The Boys’ – a film that we have featured before

It starred Richard Todd and Robert Morley, Felix Aylmer and a very young pop star of the era ‘Jess Conrad’

This was a film that was time taken for granted by critics of the day, but acclaimed in 2021 by Simon Heffer – of all people – as “not only a magnificent kitchen sink, but one of the finest films of the whole era”. 

As for the actual film – The Boys were played by Dudley Sutton, Tony Garnett, Ronald Lacey and Jess Conrad – with the exception of Jess, they have all sadly passed away, although they all did manage to get together for a ‘Talking Pictures’ event a few years ago when they discussed this film

They all spoke highly of Robert Morley who was ‘ like a father to us and such a lovely man, brought us cakes every day’

The Boys 1962

However their recollections of Richard Todd were far less warm. He wasn’t friendly at all, in fact very remote.  Tony Garnett, who admitted to being a ‘bit stroppy in those days’, so annoyed Richard Todd that the star wanted him off the picture – and he would have been sacked if ‘ The glorious Robert Morley hadn’t intervened and with immense good humour got me off the hook’

The Boys Richard Todd
The Boys Robert Morley
Courtroom Scene The Boys with Robert Morley

Reading Richard Todd’s Autobiography ‘In Camera’ this film is not mentioned at length but he does say that, his part in the film took just three weeks to complete and they all got on well together.   He said though that he had a disagreement in a lunchtime chat with Robert Morley when they both had opposing political views and Robert expressed his views very forcefully. Richard Todd says that, very sensibly, he avoided such a subject again.   He also speaks highly of Robert and states just how good he was in the role.

Recollections seem to differ on this one but I do think that – at that time Richard Todd probably saw himself as somehow superior to these actors because he had been a major international star. His film career at this point though, was very much on the wane.

Later in life, he did become much more relaxed and seemed to speak well of everyone in his interviews.

I always remember Robert Morley being the subject of ‘This is your Life’ where he had been surprised while on stage in the West End – and thw whole show came from that Theatre – he remained standing throughout the proceedings and seemed to enjoy the whole thing very much

I have come across this fascinating article on the Show :-

Among the wonderful cast who turned up to pay tribute to Robert Morley on the stage of the Savoy Theatre on 24 April 1974 was a no less a legendary figure of the theatre than the ninety-one-year-old Dame Sybil Thorndike, the star of the first play Robert wrote in 1935.

Robert’s wife, Joan, was the daughter of another theatrical Dame, the late Dame Gladys Cooper.

And Robert was co-author with Rosemary Anne Sisson of the play at the Savoy, A Ghost on Tiptoe, in which he was co-starring with Ambrosine Philpotts and William Franklyn.

There were greetings from old chums such as Peter Bull, Robert Hardy, Peter Ustinov, and his great pal Wilfred Hyde-White, who summed up Robert’s perfect day: ‘Stay at the racecourse till dark, and the casino till daybreak.’

The great film director John Huston – he directed Robert in the classic The African Queen – reminded Robert of one particular day at the races, a selling plate. Robert was trying to persuade Huston into joining him in a bid for a horse which Robert really rated. Huston was just about to agree and join a bid when the auctioneer took them by surprise and announced, ‘Going, going, gone!’ and banged down his hammer, whereupon the horse Robert so fancied joint-owning let out a last ‘neigh … ‘ and dropped down dead.

But it was Dame Sybil Thorndike who summed up Robert Morley, the gentleman actor. Rushing to open a door for her at the BBC, he tripped. ‘Get up, you silly old thing,’ commanded the Dame. But he couldn’t. He’d actually broken his ankle and was taken to hospital by ambulance.

The broken ankle put him out of work – but only temporarily. What did he do? Got himself a part in the television series Emergency – Ward 10 – as a man with a broken ankle.

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The Great Escape

This film is just outside of the 1950 s but what a film it is – and one that has justifiably attained classic status and also one that, when it appears on Television, still draws big viewing figures

ABOVE: James Garner on set with interesting reading material

ABOVE – James Garner with Steve McQueen and James Coburn

ABOVE – James Garner again with Steve McQueen and James Coburn

This time James Coburn, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson along with Director John Sturges – again on the film set in Germany

What a great Cinema Poster this is ABOVE – it really captures the excitement on the film

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The Greatest Show on Earth

Jan 10, 1952: “The Greatest Show on Earth” premiered in New York (Best Picture 1953) it was directed by Cecil B. DeMille and in Technicolor – released by Paramount Pictures.

It is a Cecil B. DeMille extravaganza, one of the best he produced and directed – it is a also nice tribute to the Ringling Brothers&Barnum&Bailey Circus .

The film won The Best Picture Oscar for 1952

Box Office success – this was the highest grossing film in the USA in 1952 – way ahead of its nearest rival – these figures are adjusted for inflation to todays finances

RankMovieRelease
Date
DistributorGenre1952 GrossTickets Sold
1The Greatest Show on EarthJan 10, 1952Drama$36,000,00060,000,000
2The Snows of KilimanjaroSep 17, 1952Drama$12,933,40321,555,671
3High NoonJul 24, 1952$8,000,00013,333,333
4The Quiet ManAug 21, 1952Romantic Comedy$7,600,00012,666,666
5Singin’ in the RainApr 10, 1952MGMMusical$7,124,33511,873,891
6The World in His ArmsOct 9, 1952$3,000,0005,000,000
7Million Dollar MermaidDec 4, 1952MGMMusical$2,750,0004,583,333
8Invasion, U.S.A.Dec 10, 1952$1,200,0002,000,000
9Snow White and the Seven Dw…Feb 22, 1944Walt DisneyMusical$1,100,0001,833,333
Total Gross of All Movies$79,707,738
Total Tickets Sold132,846,227

The circus as a cinema subject, gives us dazzling colour and liveliness making it ideal for a Cecil B DeMille production

He himself narrates portions of the film showing the work involved in putting on the Greatest Show on Earth. His was a familiar voice to the American public because for 10 years DeMille came into American households via radio narrating the Lux Radio Theater. In fact until Alfred Hitchcock got his own anthology TV series, DeMille’s voice was probably the most known to the American public of a film director.

When you think about it, outside of main actors, only Cecil B. DeMille and Walt Disney’s name could sell a film and guarantee box office returns in those days

Spectacle was his thing and DeMille was the master.

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‘Underwater’ 1955 with Jane Russell

In one of the most ludicrous publicity stunts in film history 200 Journalists and screen personalities were flown to Silver Springs in Florida in January 1955 to attend the premiere of Howard Hugh’s film ‘Underwater’

They donned bathing suits, aqua lungs and swim fins and viewed the film 20 ft underwater at Silver Springs. Those who chose not to get wet could view the film from the portholes of six electrically powered submarines.

Some have since said that RKO should have left the film on the bottom as they said that it was quite talky and boring in the main.

It was however filmed in Technicolor and Superscope.

John Sturges directed.

Jayne Mansfield pictured here with Jane Russell at the film Premiere of ‘Underwater’ at Silver Springs Florida on 10 January 1955

Dominic Quesada (Gilbert Roland) and Johnny Gray ( Richard Egan) believe they are on to something when they find ancient artefacts scattered on the sea bed whilst diving. All they need to do is persuade Johnny’s wife Theresa (Jane Russell) to allow him to use their boat to finance their treasure hunt although Dominic manages to persuade the attractive Gloria (Lori Nelson) to join them and use her boat. Also along for the expedition is Father Cannon (Robert Keith) who believes there is a much greater treasure to be found in a life size golden Madonna. Between the danger of sharks, the galleon teetering on an under water ridge as well as some locals who are obviously not the fishermen they say they are, it is a dangerous adventure.

The film has some good under water scenes but it is really an ordinary treasure hunting story with danger from sharks, thieves and the precariously perched sunken galleon.

Lori Nelson and Gilbert Roland in Underwater! (1955)

Howard Hughes originally planned to film Underwater! in 3-D, but the craze had faded before production began. By mid-1954 Fox’s new CinemaScope format was in use by other studios as well. Some predicted that ALL feature filmmaking would soon be anamorphic

Howard Hughes instead rolled the dice with the clever Superscope format. * Rather than lining up to rent an expensive CinemaScope lens, RKO simply took a horizontal ‘stripe’ out of the middle of a normal 35mm frame. An optical printer blew it up and squeezed it so that it would yield an extra-wide image projected with a ‘scope lens. The added granularity was partly counteracted by Technicolor printing. It was a poor man’s Cinemascope

A couple of years later , SuperScope introduced SuperScope 235 which used the entire 35mm picture width, including the soundtrack area. It’s essentially the same as today’s ‘Super 35′ format, the one favoured by James Cameron in his more recent films

ABOVE – The ‘Underwater’ Premiere

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Ivanhoe 1952

News of this at Christmas 2021 because only a few days ago, there was a new ‘Blu-ray’ release for this film

MGM’s sumptuous big screen adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s IVANHOE (1952) was released a few days ago on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection!

It has had a spectacular 4K restoration of the original three-strip Technicolor negatives, so we will view it in all its Technicolor glory – and in colour terms, this will be good as you would ever get.

What a colour process Technicolor was !! It fits this film perfectly

BELOW – These colour action shots below are impressive filmed at Elstree Film Studios with Torquilstone Castle built in the grounds

Robert Taylor had a very successful run in Britain in the early fifties with Ivanhoe – a big hit at the Box Office – then ‘Knights of the Round Table’ and later ‘The Adventure of Quentin Durward’

All pretty good – he doesn’t seem to be the ideal actor for these roles but looking back he was just that – an unlikely choice but a successful one. Also just before ‘Ivanhoe’ he scored another big hit in ‘Quo Vadis’

Studio Castle “Ivanhoe Will Be Shot At Elstree

The filming by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer of Scott’s Ivanhoe started at Elstree Studios, near London, at the end of June 1951. However the cameras will not go anywhere near Conisbrough Castle around which the opening chapters of Sir Walter Scott’s novel were woven. An imposing “castle” has been constructed on the sets at the London studios under the direction of Alfred Junger – the art director on the film.

We can see the finished castle in the stills above and it certainly looked very impressive

Use of Local Locations – local to Elstree that is

In a phone call at the time to Mr Paul Mills, Publicity Director, referred enthusiastically to the careful work on the castle scenes. The studio “castle” has been built for some time, and Mr Junger has been guided by the architecture of Torquilstone Castle, which also has a place in “Ivanhoe.”

Mr. Mills confirmed that there would be no location work at Conisbrough. “If there are any locations they will be done locally,” he said, and added that although Scott gave place-names it was only assumed that action took place where it did.

An enormous cast was assembled— in the region of 700 – and at the time the claim was that ‘all will be British’.

The Technicolor film was one of the major British film productions of 1952, and would rank among the most spectacular of post-war releases. Producing the film was Pandro S. Berman, with Richard Thorpe as director.

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The Holly and the Ivy 1952 – more from that classic film

‘The Holly and the Ivy from 1952 will be on Talking Pictures again tomorrow Christmas Eve – and what better Christmas film could you have.

How often do we hear people say ‘ nothing much on again this Christmas’ or ‘just full of repeats’

Well, I certainly don’t subscribe to any of those statements – I quite like to be able to see a film or programme again and when you have channels like ‘Talking Pictures’ there is always something worth watching – in actual fact, it is often like seeing a NEW film because quite a lot of them have not seen the light of day for years. Thanks to this channel we now can see them

I couldn’t resist this extra article on the film mainly because I came across this poster today – and I think it is the best one I have seen promoting the film.

it is an American one though from the spelling – I just wonder how well the film did in the USA – I have a feeling that audiences would have liked it

From a personal point of view, I wish this film had been colorised

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A Film for Christmas – ‘The Holly and The Ivy’ 1952

I like this film very much and it has featured before on this site. It is from a stage play of the same name written by Wynyard Browne and one that had had a West End run in London at the time.

It is a play that is sometimes put on even now in small Theatres throughout the land – I have never seen any of the stage versions though but I have seen this film.

It is to be shown on Talking Pictures on 20th December 2021 and again on Christmas Eve morning – if it had been down to me, I would have shown it on Christmas Day at about 8 pm

Home for Christmas – and a view from the Vicarage Window of the Church

Ralph Richardson is the Vicar of Wyndenham – a small village in Norfolk – who has lost his wife and so, as Christmas arrives, he plans host to his grown up family – his children and other relatives

The Vicar’s eldest daughter, Jenny (played by Celia Johnson), lived with him at the Vicarage since his wife – and her mother’s death ad has cared for him. Jenny wants to marry her sweetheart, David Paterson (played by John Gregson), but she can’t leave her father alone. David is an engineer and will leave in a month for a five-year job in South America. Will she – can she – leave her father behind and go with him ?

Margaret Leighton plays the youngest daughter, Margaret. She works in the fashion industry in London and seems to have a busy nightlife. Her situation and her life gradually are revealed during the family gathering – it is indeed a tragic story that hits us, the audience right between the eyes

Denholm Elliott plays the Vicar’s son, Michael. He is serving a year in the Army. His father expects him to go to Cambridge, but Michael has no desire to. He plays out a wonderful scene with his father when they both stand around the Christmas tree and really talk to one another – the film Director cleverly uses the tree as a sort of hide-out for Michael from his feelings as their conversation deepens. I have never seen this done before or since.

Aunts Lydia and Gretchen have backgrounds that add meat to the story. And, cousin Richard Wyndham is an always present member of family gatherings.

All aspects of this film are superb. The screenplay, direction, technical production and acting all contribute to making this a wonderful drama about life – and, it is a most fitting story of family love for Christmas. Please watch it if you can

Wyndenham Post Office

The Opening sequences of the film as one member of the family drives home to the Vicarage at Wyndenham

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Movie Memories – The Farewell Edition

When I opened that large white envelope this evening, my wife thought that it would be some knitting patterns she had ordered but No – it was the latest edition of Movie Memories. It really is a great day when this arrives as I can plan for hours of absorbing reading and also it is a publication you can go back and read again and again as the years roll by.

This time however, it is different because this is the Farewell Edition. Compiled and written all these years by Chris Roberts – this has been a labour of love for him – however he has decided reluctantly to bring things to an end

Kim Novak

Tarantula

I would like to wish Chris All the Very Best for the future.

I know that with his involvement with Movie Memories, which is very much his creation, he has met many film stars, interviewed them and been part of the team that held the Talking Pictures events in Stockport and St Albans.

He will be greatly missed – however I may be speaking prematurely here because I think Chris will still attend those events and maybe carry on the interviews – I hope that he does.

Thank You Chris for your contribution to the films and film stars of the era –

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